Following up their previous mini-series, Dark Horse Comics continues the story of the self-proclaimed “Predator Hunters” head from an island jungle to the deserts of Afghanistan, in what looks to be an exceptionally brutal chapter. Mild Spoilers Ahead
Illustrated by Agustin Padilla
Colored by Neeraj Menon
Lettered by Michael Heisler
With the open-ended conclusion readers were left with on “Predator Hunters,” it seems obvious that fans are getting a continuation. Picking up right where the previous arc ended, our 2-dimensional heroes are regrouping after the successful, yet heinous battle they endured in the jungle of the Amelia Islands.
Having suffered many losses, the remaining team members are fractured. They all still believe in the mission to take down any invading Predators, but most are beginning to feel that it’s a futile cause. While this drama is unfolding, a Predator has landed on the other side of the world in the middle of the Afghanistan desert. Attracted to the bloodshed that war grants us, the warrior alien takes out a group of Jihadists just before they can kill an undercover CIA agent. Of course the team gets wind of this and sets out on their next mission.
Writer Chris Warner (“Moon Knight,” “Star Wars: KOTOR”) has been working on this franchise for nearly thirty years as both author and artist, having worked on the first ever comic book adaptation “Concrete Jungle.” His knowledge of the character is evident throughout. His script writing on this premiere issue has the soul of a Predator movie in a way that many of the previous books have not. With so many creators coming on with their own take and with endless crossovers with the Aliens franchise, though at this point they are basically one and the same, it is great to read something that feels like it belongs with the original 1987 film. Thankfully we have a “Predator” veteran at the wheel.
So far, this new chapter is already a better read than the previous installment. While both are written by Warner, he seems to be allowed off his leash a bit more here. With the bulk of character exposition and more action movie inspired material out of the way, we are getting more horror and gore this time around. It’s also nice to see the title creature kicking ass and taking skulls in a new setting. The harsh landscape of Afghanistan’s desert and mountain caves are great change of pace from the usual jungles, spaceships, and cities that we usually see the Predators in.
Teaming up with Warner this time around is illustrator Agustin Padilla (“Suicide Squad,” IDW’s “Transformers”) and colorist Neeraj Menon (“Witchblade,” “Ghostbusters 101”). Padilla’s artwork is much more suited for the material than Francisco Ruiz Velasco’s was on the last arc. This is not a knock on Velasco’s talent by any means, I am by all accounts, a fan, but Padilla’s grittiness and powerful detail is the perfect direction for “Predator Hunters.” Padilla’s line work evokes the energy of each setting the story jumps to. Whether it’s the jungle, an office, or a wind-blasted desert, you are in it; you are there whether you like it or not. Menon’s colors take it the extra step to light up your senses. You can feel the sand whipping past your face, or the hot blood splatter against its surroundings, and hear the Predator turn on its weaponry. Both artists are right at home building on to this established world. It’s been a while since a “Predator” comic has been this violent, which is sure to make long-time fans happy. And on top of stellar gore and set pieces, the Predator himself looks damn good. The image of a Predator walking into frame hasn’t excited me this much since 2010’s Predators.
This is a very good start to the new miniseries and while it isn’t crucial to have read the previous arc to understand what is happening here, it’s still a recommended read. There are some minor re-cap moments in this issue. However, if you missed the first arc, you will get the characters’s backstories and some more Predator action, so fans will most likely not want to miss out on that. It is great to have Chris Warner back at the helm as he has written some of the best “Predator” comics in the thirty year run. Hopefully “Predator Hunters II” can maintain the quality of its first issue and be named among the best of the best.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.0, A solid new story in the “Predator” franchise that has all the severed heads, exploding entrails, and ripped-out spines fans crave.